You feel as if you've taken a time trip back to the 1980s. Remember when slasher films were a major draw, courtesy Ramsay brothers? Hollywood also had its share of FRIDAY THE 13TH, HALLOWEEN and A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET. Well, slasher movies are back again in Bollywood.
First KUCCH TO HAI, then SAMAY and now SSSSHHHï¿½
It's not easy forgetting such movies. The thrills and chills that one associate with this genre remain etched in your memory even after the movies have made an exit from theatres.
Also, a whodunit generally raises curiosity. SSSSHHHï¿½ also does!
Being the launch pad of Kajol's younger sister, the expectations from SSSSHHHï¿½ are obviously on the higher side. More reasons: Stylish promos, aggressive pre-release promotion, the youth factor in its cast and of course, an offbeat title for a whodunit. Wow, so many factors going in its favour!
SSSSHHHï¿½ is a whodunit that's stylishly executed [director: Pavan Kaul], but a weak screenplay [Arshad Sayed], excessive length [19 reels] and most importantly, a half-baked climax [when the killer's identity is unveiled], dilute the impact.
Despite the shortcomings, the film has its moments and it also has ample shock value, so important in a film of this genre.
The calm of a beautiful town is broken when Malini [Simone Singh] is brutally killed one night after a game of squash.
Malini's gruesome death has a tragic effect on her young sister Mahek [Tanisha], who goes into a shell and cannot come to terms with this tragedy.
Malini's friends, Gehna [Suvarna Jha], Rajat [Gaurav Kapoor] and Nikhil [Kushal Punjabi] with his girlfriend Riya [Teena Chowdhary], try hard to get Mahek out of the shell. Also trying to cheer up Mahek is her childhood pal, the extrovert brat Rocky [Dino Morea], who loves her dearly.
But Mahek seems to veer towards the new boy in college, Suraj [Karan Nath], who is soft-spoken and an introvert.
Amidst life with her six friends, Mahek's world goes into a tizzy when there are repeated attempts on her life by someone in a joker's mask. But she manages to escape every time the killer tries to eliminate her.
This is then when everyone realises that what Mahek needs is a change. A holiday! This sees this group of seven head off from the foggy locales of Shimla to the sunny beaches of Bangkok.
In Thailand, it's all fun and games for a while, even as the love triangle intensifies between Rocky, Mahek and Suraj.
They have a blast on a secluded beach in Thailand. But little do they know that manyï¿½ or mostï¿½ of them will not come back!
SSSSHHHï¿½ starts off pretty well. Unlike other films where the killer surfaces only towards the end, the killer in the film comes at the very start of the film, in the first five minutes to be precise. He then goes on a killing spree, killing all and sundry.
On the plus side, SSSSHHHï¿½ is an apt case of body beautiful. Besides being a stylish fare, the film has been shot at some of the most exotic locales of Thailand. Even the snow-capped locales of Himachal Pradesh [India] are simply breath-taking.
Besides the look of the film, the makers have taken efforts to work on the sound quality and background score [Salim-Sulaiman] as well. Both are of superior quality.
Most importantly, the film does succeed in scaring the daylights out of the engrossed viewer occasionally. A few scary moments in the first half do merit a mention.
Director Pavan Kaul is an efficient technician. Technically speaking, the film is way above slasher flicks like KUCCH TO HAI and the recent SAMAY. There's consistency in the making throughout, which needs to be lauded.
But Kaul is handicapped by not just the screenplay, but also music [Anu Malik]. The songs are mere gap fillers, hardly contributing in moving the story ahead.
The screenplay is the biggest culprit. The killer's motive for going on a killing spree is anything but convincing. The identity of the killer does jolt you, but one fails to understand the logic behind the killer killing not just the protagonist and her family, but even her innocent friends and also the cops in the climax.
The problem with SSSSHHHï¿½ is that it takes a long time to come to the point. The kind of plot it rests on, SSSSHHHï¿½ takes a real long route to reach the finale. Frankly, the killer going on a killing spree, aided by an accomplice [!!!], is so unconvincing that the viewer gasps for breath.
Besides a faulty screenplay, the film also suffers due to its excessive length. Too much footage has been devoted to the friends, which was not necessary at all. Moreover, the climax is long-drawn, hence loses its impact.
Cinematography [Hiroo Keswani] is outstanding. Not only does the lensman do full justice to the exotic locales, but also succeeds in creating an eerie ambience.
Now to the performances! Tanisha is an okay actress. Looks-wise, she photographs well from certain angles, resembling her sister Kajol and mother Tanuja at places. But she needs to work on her dialogue delivery as well as her overall appearance. Also, she needs to look into her choice of outfits!
Dino Morea shows improvement over his previous performances, but he doesn't have a role that actually demands histrionics. Karan Nath has a meatier role and he does it with conviction. Amongst friends, Gaurav Kapoor and Suvarna Jha stand out. Aly Khan is wasted. Maya Alagh doesn't get scope either. Shivaji Satam is passable.
On the whole, SSSSHHH? holds tremendous curiosity value and shock value. It does succeed in scaring you, but intermittently. However, it falls short in that one vital department that is the lifeline of every film ï¿½ a taut screenplay. At the box-office, the fresh look and an aggressive promotion will help it find flavour with youth mainly, but its business will taper down after the initial curiosity settles.
Also, releasing the film in an open week, without oppositions, would've helped tremendously!